Gee makes a compelling case for reframing methods of teaching and learning, but the pedantic tone may put off some readers.




Thinking about thinking in education and the digital age.

The subtitle suggests that the primary focus of the book would be the roles technology can play in the classroom. Gee (Literacy Studies/Arizona State Univ.; What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, 2003) has a larger agenda, as he gives ancillary consideration to the technology involved and instead takes a broad look at ways of thinking and learning. He weaves over the line between the ills and the benefits of technology, finding examples of rapid collaboration and increased agency through online forums, social media, webcams video games, search tools, virtual worlds and similar connections. At the same time, he considers the shifting relevance of traditionally defined expertise as noncredentialed "amateurs" leverage the Internet to produce expert-level work. Gee’s anecdotal stories are worthy examples of "thinking outside of the box”—e.g., the project to make modifications to the popular game The Sims in an effort to use it to simulate the life of a poor, single mother. The prevailing tone around these anecdotes, however, leans toward a frustrated lecture about these innovative ideas being the exception to the rule. For the most part, it seems, we have become a culture of nincompoops with the cognitive tools necessary to become smarter, but we're either misusing them or disregarding them. “Do we have the will to save ourselves?” asks the author in conclusion. “Will we each sink in our own boat, however large or small it is, or will we bail water together in a journey to a better future?”

Gee makes a compelling case for reframing methods of teaching and learning, but the pedantic tone may put off some readers.

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-230-34209-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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The sub-title of this book is "Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in the Upper Forms of Schools." But one finds in it little about education, and less about the teaching of English. Nor is this volume a defense of the Christian faith similar to other books from the pen of C. S. Lewis. The three lectures comprising the book are rather rambling talks about life and literature and philosophy. Those who have come to expect from Lewis penetrating satire and a subtle sense of humor, used to buttress a real Christian faith, will be disappointed.

Pub Date: April 8, 1947

ISBN: 1609421477

Page Count: -

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1947

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Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.


Comprehensive, myth-busting examination of the Colorado high-school massacre.

“We remember Columbine as a pair of outcast Goths from the Trench Coat Mafia snapping and tearing through their high school hunting down jocks to settle a long-running feud. Almost none of that happened,” writes Cullen, a Denver-based journalist who has spent the past ten years investigating the 1999 attack. In fact, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold conceived of their act not as a targeted school shooting but as an elaborate three-part act of terrorism. First, propane bombs planted in the cafeteria would erupt during lunchtime, indiscriminately slaughtering hundreds of students. The killers, positioned outside the school’s main entrance, would then mow down fleeing survivors. Finally, after the media and rescue workers had arrived, timed bombs in the killers’ cars would explode, wiping out hundreds more. It was only when the bombs in the cafeteria failed to detonate that the killers entered the high school with sawed-off shotguns blazing. Drawing on a wealth of journals, videotapes, police reports and personal interviews, Cullen sketches multifaceted portraits of the killers and the surviving community. He portrays Harris as a calculating, egocentric psychopath, someone who labeled his journal “The Book of God” and harbored fantasies of exterminating the entire human race. In contrast, Klebold was a suicidal depressive, prone to fits of rage and extreme self-loathing. Together they forged a combustible and unequal alliance, with Harris channeling Klebold’s frustration and anger into his sadistic plans. The unnerving narrative is too often undermined by the author’s distracting tendency to weave the killers’ expressions into his sentences—for example, “The boys were shooting off their pipe bombs by then, and, man, were those things badass.” Cullen is better at depicting the attack’s aftermath. Poignant sections devoted to the survivors probe the myriad ways that individuals cope with grief and struggle to interpret and make sense of tragedy.

Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

Pub Date: April 6, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-446-54693-5

Page Count: 406

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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